Warren Gatland relishing autumn challenge
6:06am Tuesday 20th August 2013 in Wales rugby
WALES coach Warren Gatland is looking for his side to kick-on from their recent success but is under no illusion about the scale of challenge that lies ahead in the autumn internationals.
The RBS Six Nations champions, who won back-to-back titles for the first time since 1979 in March, host Rugby Championship sides South Africa, Argentina and Australia as well as Pacific Islanders Tonga in Cardiff this November.
After guiding the British and Irish Lions to their first series victory in 16 years, Gatland returns to the helm of the Welsh side that drew their summer tour of Japan 1-1.
Gatland is looking for a big campaign from Wales as they look to bounce back from disappointment in the Far East and build on the Six Nations success but he is fully aware of the task ahead.
"It's going to be a tough autumn," said Gatland.
"We have always thrived on testing ourselves against the best. We will be doing that again in November and it will be ideal preparation going into the Six Nations.
"We should be really proud of what our Welsh players have achieved and we need to make sure that those players who have done well with Wales and the Lions recently kick on from that."
A total of 16 Welsh players played their part in the Lions' series success Down Under this summer and that confidence will feed back into the Welsh set-up according to Gatland.
"I think those players involved would have gained a huge amount of confidence from the tour," he added.
"They all came away with a lot of credit. They were in great shape physically and a lot of those players were key components in the test side.
"It's always a challenge post Lions, the players will be excited and motivated but we must make sure we keep them fresh.
"With Wales the last three times we played Australia it's gone right down to the wire. We have led into the last couple of minutes, only to have the heartbreak at the end but I'm a great believer in learning from those scenarios.
"The players who went through those experiences have learnt and developed from it."
Tickets to see Wales in action at the Millennium Stadium in the 2013 Dove Men are available online at www.wru.co.uk/tickets, prices from £25, £10 concession.
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